Volunteer and Intern Blog Posts

Liger Visit and The Turtle Rescue

Liger Learning Center VisitThe best day of my life… so far Turtle Rescue and Release

Well it all started by saying good bye. It was a Friday morning just like any other. I woke up ready to experience another beautiful day, on the island of Koh-Seh. Every day is a Beautiful day, with wonder, excitement, loving energies and the chance to learn something new.

For the past 4 days, we here at Koh-Seh, got to share our experiences with some very bright young minds, even though they came to learn from us, I felt as if I had learnt just as much from them. These were just some of the incredible kids that came from a school of 120 children. Now this school isn’t just any ordinary school. The kids from this School are so brilliant, they leave you feeling extremely inspired and motivated that you can’t fathom how much of an influence, such young adults can create on people who are already very excited and motivated.

10 students from the Liger school of Cambodia stayed with us and learnt about marine conservation. On their third day they even set up their own projects to be carried out for future studies. Some of the children studied the use of algae’s as a form of income for fishers, an attempt to teach them the benefits of sustainable living. The goal is for them to transform their illegal fishing equipment in to an algae cultivation station. They would grow the algae, harvest it and eventually sell it, The algae is edible and can be used in sushi and other dishes as an alternative for fisherman instead of resorting to illegal and destructive fishing methods.

They researched all the algae’s that are available in the Cambodian ocean and chose two. The sea grape algae and the red sea lettuce, mmmm yummy.  One other project two children looked into was creating an artificial reef. Where once there was beautiful lush green meadows of seagrass and clusters of oyster beds. Now there is mud, sand, and silt. So they created concrete blocks to be placed in the ocean, stacked in a design of their choice to monitor the effects it has on the fish: providing homes and sanctuary. The Invertebrates: providing safety and security and for the bivalves a place to attach on so they can filter the water column once again. The substrates now have a sub biotic substrate growth platform, for coral, sponges, zoanthids and hydroids. Very interesting, anyway this was the morning of their departure a sad day. We said our goodbyes and wished them well on their travels and that we looked forward to seeing them again in the future.

After they left on our boat to go to the mainland, Paul Ferber (founder of MCC Marine Conservation Cambodia) received a message on his phone from the Kampot fisheries. The messaged contained several photos of a pair of green sea turtles a male and a female. It turns out the night before, we heard a pair trawler from our island. A very loud and destructive horrible sound that shakes the ground and hurts the heart when you know what’s really going on under the water. Paul altered the fisheries of the location that sound of death was being transmitted from. Which resulted in the catch and apprehension of an illegal fishing vessel and an incredible rescue two endangered yet majestic creatures of the Cambodian ocean.

Most people probably don’t even know these marvelous animals still exist in these waters. After Paul showed me the photos I felt like crying, these things looked bloody enormous in comparison to the men who saved them in the pictures. I stopped and thought about how many other beautiful animals are literally stolen from their home as a result of illegal fishing methods. Just imagine how long these lovable reptiles have been surviving, striving and just getting by. But, last night they got caught in a net and tomorrow maybe served in a soup very, very sad it broke my heart. After all the sadness became too overwhelming Paul received a phone call from Kampot fisheries who said that a government official was coming down from Phnom Penh to witness the safe return of the traumatized reptiles, Paul got off the phone very excited and said ok quick quick I need to get to Kampot now. I was so excited he was going to witness their release I said get plenty of photos no just take a video oh do both. We organized a long tail boat for a lift to our big boat because our other boat had already left for the Friday day trip of supply collection. The fishers who owned the boat were just finishing lunch and then they would come straight away after. I thought for laugh I’ll ask if I can accompany him on this voyage to the mainland and witness the release of an animal I had actually never seen before except on the television. He thought about it and then Holly Paul’s youngest daughter also asked if she could come along and his son B and his second youngest daughter Fern. Coincidentally it was Holly’s birthday (best birthday present ever right). Eventually he agreed and we all got dressed in very nice clothes since it was going to be on TV and there was going to be a lot of very important attending this release.

Asian beliefs say aiding a Sea turtle in returning back to its home promotes longevity. The boat ride went so very quickly we were all overwhelmed with euphoria before we knew it we were on the mainland. We met our boat captain SamNang and asked if he would like to come with us to experience a once in a life time opportunity, he was concerned about the boat and asked his friend to watch it for him. Then we all piled in to Paul’s car and headed to Kampot when we arrived in Kampot we met up with Amick from MCC who was in Kampot for the weekend and when he got news of the day that was planned he quickly purchased some new threads and had a clean shave to look more presentable.

Looking fresh to death we all headed to the Kampot fisheries headquarters, to see the recuperating green sea turtles! We arrived and were greeted by two officers who showed us the pair which were in a small amount of water to keep them moist but, not too much so they could still lift their heads up to breathe. Also there was a shower bowl to pour over their shells to prevent them drying out. I was gob smacked and speechless so were the kids, I know in the Photo they looked big but wow! We found out it was a female and a male the female weighed 100kg and the male weighed 120 kilos.

Paul believed that the turtles were quite old to be so large the female was around 40 years old and the male 50 years old, the fisheries officers said the expert had said the exact same thing. The female was strong and still had a lot of fight in her but, the male was weary after dealing with the night from hell he looked like he wasn’t going to make it. I felt sympathetic to these big beautiful reptiles of the ocean, so I sent the turtles some loving energies to try and let them know everything was going to be ok, the female looked slightly reassured but, male didn’t look convinced. After we saw the turtles were in good hands we agreed to meet back here in 2 hours so we went and met up with all the people who were involved in the rescue of turtles before we knew it we were back and at the fisheries headquarters because it was time to transport these humungous eccentric beings.

We decided to use Paul’s car because it had a large area in the back that we could lay a tarp down and make a pool for the turtles, to remain moist before returning to sea. We laid down the tarp and then proceeded in very carefully picking up these mammoth sized beasts upon moving the male we discovered that he actually did have a lot residual strength left and we all felt like a weight had been lifted literally. After successfully moving them into the back of the car we brought a bucket of water to pour over their shells and everyone got in the car except Nang and I we rode in the back to car for the turtles. We were to travel 6km out of Kampot to a small fishing village which had easily accessible water and no large boats passing around. On the way there we used our phones to live stream the transportation of two endangered animals that had become captured in an illegal fishing net. It was a very quick drive we arrived before I knew we continued to the very end of the road till the water was less than 10 meters away we stopped the car. Some locals came over and had a look then all of a sudden there was people everywhere wanting to sea these spectacular creatures.

Several cars pulled up some camera crews came out and a very important government official approached the car he was very happy to see the magnificent animals very much alive in the back of the car. We let the tail gate down and waited for someone to do something but, everyone was so concerned about getting a photo or a video that Paul, Amick and Nang with the assistance of a marine police officer picked up the female and started transporting her to the water immediately she got one wiff of that ocean and started flapping her fins so they hurried her down to the water placed her in it and she swam away so quickly so happy to be home again. Next was the big old male they lifted him up as they approached the water the fisheries officers asked them to place him down next to the water on a tarp and they proceeded to tag him take some photos as they placed him down he locked their hands on to his body with his powerful muscles in his fins so it was clear he was still very strong would and survive knowing this we all grinned from ear to ear and watched as this stunningly beautiful majestic bloody enormous reptile of the ocean returned home with a few flaps of his fins he was gone thus concludes the best day of my life… so far. Now whenever I feel sad or angry I think of this day and am immediately brought back to state of euphoria peace and harmony!      

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